Now that free agency and the NFL draft have wrapped up, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds are likely set barring injuries or trades. As you peruse this year’s odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, you’ll notice there isn’t a single position that stands out. Over the last ten years, we’ve seen EDGE, LB, CB, DE, CB, DT, DT, ILB, OLB, and DT take home the rookie award for defense. This would seem to give players who are closer to the line a better shot of winning, but still, no one position has dominated.
Moving on up
Willie Gay Jr., ILB, Chiefs (+2000)
Gay landed in a good place to see immediate work, as the Chiefs had a hole at inside linebacker which the 63rd overall pick should fill quickly. Hi odds went from not even being posted to +2000, which puts him fifth in line for the award. Kansas City was poor at stopping the run and covering running backs in the passing game last season, which Gay was brought in to do. He should be able to accumulate stats while playing all three downs.
Javon Kinlaw, DT, 49ers (+2500)
After being selected 14th overall by the 49ers, Kinlaw’s odds jumped from +3000 to +2500. The team likely leaned Kinlaw’s way after trading away DeForest Buckner to the Colts, which should give him a spot to see work early on for a team that makes it hard to stand out, but one with a tough defense and a winning record.
Grant Delpit, S, Browns (+3300)
Delpit played hurt last season and dropped to the Browns in the middle of the second round. If healthy, he would have likely been a first rounder. He has a nose for the football and could quickly be in the rookie of the year race with a few early interceptions.
Moving on down
C.J. Henderson, CB, Jaguars (+3300)
Henderson’s odds to win rookie of the year dropped after getting drafted ninth overall by the Jaguars. Jacksonville is a great spot for Henderson to see time, as the Jaguars recently let go of their top two corners, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, but it looks like the oddsmakers look at the Jaguars as a tanking team that won’t have much success overall, dragging Henderson down with them.
Trevon Diggs, CB, Cowboys (+6600)
Diggs should be able to see work early in Dallas after they lost Byron Jones in free agency, but the oddsmakers must not see him as taking over Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown from Day 1. He has great ball skills and could quickly make an impact with interceptions, as he should be out there on passing downs sooner than later.
Zack Baun, LB, Saints (+6600)
Baun lasting until the third round probably is why his odds dropped from +5000 to +6600 but with A.J. Klein leaving in free agency, I expect Baun to get his shot to put up numbers this season. The Saints will need his help and are good enough to go to the Super Bowl. A lot will depend on what they ask out of him his rookie year, but there is upside for plenty of snaps due to his versatility.
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